Food waste is any kind food that was at some point fit for consumption by humans, but was never consumed instead. The food could have been removed, expired or spilled. Whatever the cause, the food has never fulfilled its purpose as consumption for humans. Food waste thus includes any non-food use such as feeding animals or bioenergy.
Food for thought – since food waste includes non-food use we should ask ourselves two questions: 1) how much food is actually thrown away (no use at all)? 2) Is the non-food use of food equally efficient and effective as products that were produced and designed for non-food use in the first place?
Food waste is a part of food loss. Food loss is any decrease in quantity or quality of food. Food loss typically occurs in production and distribution, while food waste occurs more in distribution and consumption.
A key reason to make a clear distinction between food waste and food loss is that causes and solutions for both waste and loss are quite different. For food waste we rather look at retailer and consumer behavior; for loss we could look at harvesting or production methods.
Food for thought – much more than just food is wasted by throwing away a piece of meat. To produce one kilo of meat you need 5000 – 2000 litres of water and to store and market the meat appropriate packaging is needed. This kind of waste is referred to as food related waste.
Key to solving the problems associated with food waste is to create a broad understanding of what the problem is exactly about.